Race on to extract $540b worth of ‘white gold’ discovered beneath California lake

It makes the California-based reservoir the largest in the world.
  • Scientists believe they have discovered the world’s largest ‘white gold’ mine sitting underneath
  • The Salton Sea, in southern California, is the state’s largest lake
  • Scientists have already confirmed four million tons of lithium to be present through drilling, but they have estimated there could be a staggering 18 million tons sitting beneath the lake

Published on Dec 6, 2023 at 3:20PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Dec 7, 2023 at 1:39PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones
Race on to extract $540b worth of 'white gold' discovered beneath California lake

Apparently, the world’s largest ‘white gold’ mine is sitting beneath a lake in southern California.

That’s what the scientists believe, who have been researching the Salton Sea – the state’s largest lake.

A new study, funded by the Department of Energy (DOE), is trying to analyze how much lithium – also known as ‘white gold’ due to its white, sand-like appearance – is underneath the huge body of water.

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They already knew the lake was sitting on a lithium reservoir, however, they have now revealed the vast amount of chemical.

Scientists have already confirmed four million tons of ‘white gold’ to be present through drilling.

But they have estimated there could be a staggering 18 million tons sitting beneath the lake.

To put it into perspective, that’d be enough to power more than 382 million batteries for electric vehicles.

And with the new Cybertruck being rolled out as well as Hyundai electric pickup truck and electric ‘flying cars’ incoming – it’s needed.

Can’t wait? Here are the top 5 luxury electric SUVs on sale today.

Gavin Newsom, California Governor, previously described the Salton Sea as the “Saudi Arabia of lithium mining” – and it’s easy to understand why.

The new discovery makes the California reservoir the largest in the world.

At the time of writing, one metric ton of lithium is worth in the region of $29,000.

So some quick maths suggests that the Salton Sea could be sat on top of $540 billion worth of goods.

“This is one of the largest lithium brine deposits in the world,” Michael McKibben, a geochemistry professor at the University of California Riverside said.

“This could make the United States completely self-sufficient in lithium and stop importing it through China.”

Sammy Roth, climate columnist for the Los Angeles Times, has given his take on the find too.

“It’s been known for a long time that there’s a whole bunch of lithium in this super heated underground pool, sort of deep beneath the the southern end of the Salton Sea,” he said on KJZZ radio’s The Show.

“There have been companies for decades, actually that have been trying to get lithium out of there, and especially in the last decade as electric vehicles and energy storage on the the power grid become such a big need.

“But this this new report out of the federal government it’s really a sort of eye popping number. They found that there’s potentially enough lithium down there to supply batteries for 382 million electric vehicles, which is more, more vehicles than there are on the road in the United States today. So, if we could get all that lithium, that’d be huge.”

What’s more, with Joe Biden’s plans to make 50% of the vehicles on US roads electric by 2030, these findings could definitely make that possible.

And this Detroit road that charges vehicles as they drive down it is also set to help that transition.

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